Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are Genealogies the "Inspired" Word?

Alice C. Linsley

A visitor from Portland, Oregon has asked whether the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 are inspired.  It is an interesting question to consider.

This visitor hasn't included the line of descent in Genesis 4, probably because he has been taught, contrary to the biblical evidence, that Cain's descendants died in the flood.  Genesis 4 and 5 are to be kept together as these two lines intermarried exclusively, as did the lines of Ham and Shem later.

In what way might be speak of ancestry as being the "inspired" word of God?  We can say that the rulers of Genesis 4, 5 and 11 represent flesh and blood aspects of God's plan whereby the Incarnate Word came into the world to save repentant sinners.

Asking whether the genealogies are inspired is like asking whether one's ancestry is inspired.  People live and have offspring that carry on after them.  In the case of the Genesis genealogies, we have something different.  These are king lists, not family trees.  The ancestors of these kings received a divine promise in Eden concerning a "Woman" of their people (Gen. 3:15).  From their ruling lines came Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word. Could God have used other rulers?  Probably.  Why these rulers and their descendants?  Well, that's like asking why Israel?  Why Abraham?  There isn't any sense in asking why these rulers in particular. 

Are they part of the inspired plan of God?  Certainly.  Genesis is their story and they tell us that God made a promise to them concerning the "Seed" of the Woman (not Eve, as she isn't named until verse 20).  They apparently believed that promise because they intermarried exclusively and their wives were their own kin, half-sisters, cousins and nieces.  Mary is the Woman and Jesus is the Seed. He even speaks of his death using this metaphor in John 12:24:  "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest."

The test of a true prophet is whether his words come true.  The test of the inspiration of the Bible is that the Edenic Promise was fulfilled, because from beginning to end the Bible is about God's great Gift to the world, His only Begotten Son.

Related reading:  The Marriage and Ascendency Pattern of Abraham's People; Kushite Wives; Chronology of the Genesis Rulers; Who Were the Kushites?

No comments: